Long Term Campaigning
The Corporate Approach to Car Wars

by Mad Al Loud
Canadian Autoduel Association
 

HTML conversion by Michael P. Owen, March 2000


Recently, the head office of the Black Death Autoduel Association (our local sub-group of the CADA) has been swamped by requests for an outline of our corporate duelling system. This is a complete, year-round tournament system, allowing recurring characters and the continuity of a campaign, without the headache for the referee. It is the result of feedback generated by over a thousand hours of play.

Within the corporate system, games are prearranged according to a schedule. You, as president of your corporation, must balance your budget and (hopefully) show a profit at the end of the year. Can you manage your team to total victory this year or will you be another smear on the asphalt?

The corporate concept is structured around a few important ideas. First, each member of the club has a team of characters. Each character has different strengths and weaknesses, depending on how you want to set up the team. These characters must be kept alive, because you might not be able to afford to hire a new player until next season rolls around. At the end of the season, one will stand above all others in terms of development, prestige and wealth. Who will be the duellist of the year?

Second, a schedule is drawn up and distributed to every player with a corporation. This schedule sets the date, time, place, and format of the duels in advance so that players will arrive ready to play. This alone has been responsible for cutting the average length of most duels at BDAA by about two hours. Attendance is also improved as people plan around the schedule and make the time to be there.

Third, and most important, each corporation scores for participation and attendance. Points are awarded for first, second, and third place in each event, with bonus points for attendance; someone can see at a glance who runs the top corporate team. These standings promote
additional competitiveness among the players as they battle it out for the championship.
 

Selecting a Name

A player may choose any name for his or her corporation, and these names often reflect the personality of the player. Some examples from
the BDAA include BAAMaco, MAXXON, ROARING RIGS, and O.P.E.C. (Organization of People Expecting large amounts of Cash). At the time of this writing, there are 11 registered corporations in the BDAA.
 

Creating Characters

OK, you have a name -- now you need a team. No problem. Each corporation can employ up to 18 characters per year. This limit is established so that the president of the corporation (you) will feel a certain amount of responsibility to keep your characters alive and not waste them in suicidal pursuits. Second, it prevents such refereeing nightmares as having a few players enter the arena with a platoon of pedestrians with hand weapons. Third, it allows concentration on the development of individual team members as duelling pros.

The characters in your corporation have received the finest training possible. Each new character starts their career with 100 skill points! This is a significant difference from normal Car Wars and is one of the most important features of corporate play. Only the finest duellists survive long enough to make it to the professional arena as members of a corporate team -- the additional skill points represent experience already gained climbing the ladder of stardom.

All the skills mentioned in Deluxe Car Wars are used. They are Driver, Trucker, Cyclist, Pilot, Gunner, Handgunner, Mechanic, Running, Paramedic, and Martial Arts. There are only two restrictions to remember when allocating your 100 points. Each character must have at least five of these skills at base level, and no more than 40 points can be spent on any one skill (so the maximum skill level is +3). Starting prestige is 0, and so is starting cash. The corporation can pay to provide hand weapons, body armor, and other personal equipment, as well as basic living expenses.
 

Character Sheets

Each character should be kept on a neatly laid out sheet which can be updated. See the example on page 16. Not only does this provide a handy reference, but it's also a place to record the history of each character.

In actual use, each player would record the performance of their character after the game. Any money awarded must be written down here or else it mysteriously disappears. The date of the game and a small description of the event should also be recorded. Any new skill points earned are recorded on this sheet, too. At the end of the duelling season, characters are transferred to new sheets, and are ready for the next season.

The example shows the infamous duellist Mad Fred Lincoln after several duels. Note the section where each game date and description is recorded. Each vehicle kill (VK) is also noted with the game in which it occurred.

Note the skills section. In the Trucker category, Fred has one skill point, which he earned in the August 10 bus duel when he tried to drive his team's bus after the driver was killed. Although he suffered the HC penalty for not having the skill to begin with, Fred was able to earn one point just for trying it.

Each personal item that Fred owns is recorded in the Belongings category. It is possible for a character to own more than he/she can carry, but the sheet must make clear which items are carried into combat, and which are left behind.

A running total of the character's cash is kept on this sheet as well. Note the $250 expenditure -- Mad Fred bought his own body armor after a previous set was badly damaged. Also note that the first set was scratched off the sheet when it was no longer usable.

Starting Capital

Each corporation starts with some working capital. In our group's case, it's $250,000. This money will be used to build vehicles, repair damage, purchase hand weapons, and provide Gold Cross coverage for your key team members. In addition, the money can be used to buy characters from other teams -- just like in professional sports today. If you run out of money, you go bankrupt -- a dirty topic that will be discussed later.

A central balance sheet should be set up to show all money that flows through your corporation. It should record the date of the transaction
and the amount. It is vital that this sheet be accurately maintained.
 

Using Corporate Money

Corporate money comes from only one source -- prize money. Prize money is awarded for a first, second, or third place team finish in an event. Note that each character who survives an event in a conscious state will receive survivor money, but this amount is awarded directly to the characters and is recorded on their individual record sheet. Any other sort of prize is recorded on the Corporate Balance Sheet.

Corporate money can only be used for a few specific items. New vehicles may be purchased, and old ones can be repaired. Body armor and hand weapons can be bought for team members, and Gold Cross coverage can be arranged for any or all members of the team. Loans can be made to other corporations, and bets can be made between groups as well. You can also buy characters from other teams to replace dead members, but you cannot replace injured members. You can fire team members, too, but they cannot be replaced until the end of the season. You cannot buy members to exceed the 18 character limit, either.
 

Setting Up A Schedule

Let's assume that you and several of your friends have now set up their corporations. Next you need a schedule. One person in the group (the president, if your club is that structured) should be in charge of setting the schedule and determining the events. The events should be of the type that all the players can afford to play in (no $500,000 events if only one corporation has that much money), and should be scheduled so that at least three corporations can participate. You can name any arena or track, any combination of vehicles, any number of characters, and any sort of special rules you want.

The Black Death Autoduel Association will make its schedule available to all interested groups, so that teams from one area can compare
their performance with teams from another region. If you're interested, write us at: BDAA, c/o Mad Al Loud, 501 Kingston Rd. #105, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4L lV7.
 

Using Your Team

You should now have your team of characters created, your game schedule set, and your balance sheet prepared. Time to fight!

You've decided to enter the duel coming up next week. The schedule says:

First, you should choose the characters you want to use in this event. Then, you should select two cars whose total cost does not exceed $20,000. There are two ways to pay for these cars:

Use Corporate Money. In this case, the cost is deducted from the Balance Sheet, and the cars become the property of the corporation if they survive the event. The corporation can then do what it wants -- pay to have it repaired, sell it for salvage, or just keep it in inventory as is. It cannot be used by any of your characters for non-corporation purposes.

Use a Character's Money. In this case, an individual character buys the vehicle out of his or her own personal savings. (It's not likely that an individual will have the money for this until late in a season - remember, the corporation cannot loan money to a character.) When an individual buys a vehicle, he can get a discount on the purchase based on his prestige (a corporation can get no such discount). Even though the purchase price may be lower, use the original price for determining eligibility for the event. When a character buys a vehicle, the cost is deducted from his character sheet, the vehicle is added to the personal belongings list, and the car is his to use outside the arena, if he wishes. Also, the individual is responsible for ammo and repair costs -- the corporation cannot pay those for him.
 

Corporate Events

Corporate events are those in which three or more corporations are involved. At the BDAA, we have a schedule which is put together three months in advance, with a duel scheduled just about every other week. The events range from cycle only arena combat right up to the ever-popular $300,000 Gasso Invitational Big Duel, usually held in July. We also try to include some specialty events like low-tech combat, slalom events, death matches, off-road chases and the like.
 

Corporate Scoring System

At the end of each duel, points are awarded to each corporation that participated. First place gets 5 points, second place gets 3 points, third place gets 2 points, and all other participants get 1 point. This system encourages attendance, because even teams that get eliminated early come away with something. At the end of each duel, complete corporate standings are updated, so everyone can see where they stand.

Corporate Prizes

Corporate standings and individual prestige are well and good, but corporate autoduelling is a business -- as a corporation president, you're in this for the money. Your characters already know that you can't last forever on the highway, and you can't make a very good living out of driving courier jobs all your life. The corporate arena is a perilous land of opportunity reserved for the best of the highwaymen.

The total cash pot for any given event is very easy to calculate. It's the total number of teams participating times the team budget. If five teams participate in a $30,000 event (for example), the total cash prize is $150,000. Only the top three finishing corporations get any money. The first place team gets 50% of the pot, second place gets 30%, and the third place team gets 20%. In addition, all characters who are not killed or knocked unconscious get "survivor's money." This is not a great amount, only $1,500 per character ($3,000 if the total cash pot exceeds half a million dollars), but it gives characters a chance to improve their personal equipment without tapping corporate funds. A character who surrenders or leaves the arena while the duel is still on also receives survivor's money.
 

Victory Conditions

Special victory conditions can be set up for any event. But for standard arena battles, we use a formula that takes into account not only how many kills a team racks up, but how many of a team's vehicles and characters survive the battle.

The formula is a weighted one. Vehicle Kills are worth 50 Victory Points (VPs), number of surviving vehicles are worth 30 points, and number of surviving characters are worth 20 points.

Each participating team will get some percentage of the available points in each category, depending on performance. In the two survival categories, it's simply a matter of percentages. If you entered an event with two cars and one survived, you would receive 50% of the available 30 points -- 15. If you entered the event with 5 characters and 3 survived, you would receive 60% of the available 20 points -- 12.

The Vehicles Killed category is a little more complicated. The team with the top number of kills gets a 100% score, good for the entire 50 points, and the other teams get a percentage based on the ratio of their kills to that top number.

Example: Four corporations (A through D) enter an arena event, with each corporation entering three vehicles and five characters. At the end of the event, they finished like this:

In the Vehicles Killed category, B set the pace with 3 kills, so they get the full 50 points. A and D both got 2 kills, so they get 2/3 of the 50, which is 33 (always round to the nearest whole number). C got 0 kills and 0 points.

In the Surviving Vehicles category, A gets 2/3 of 30 -- 20 points, and the other 3 corporations get 10 points (1/3 of 30).

And in the Surviving Characters category. A leads again with 4/5 of 20 points -- 16; C and D receive 3/5 of 20 -- 12; and B gets 2/5 of 20 -- 8 points.

Totaling the scores, we get:

Even though Corporation B scored the most kills, A won the match by keeping more vehicles and characters alive. This tends to keep people from engaging in suicide attacks and throwing away people and equipment.
 

Corporate Bankruptcy

Unfortunately, there are some teams that just can't keep their collective heads above water. Bankruptcy is the technical term, and it occurs when you run out of money. If the budget for the next event is more than the money you've got left, you have a couple of options. You can enter the event under-budgeted, and take your chances against more powerful foes; or you can skip the event and hope the next one has a lower budget. You can also raise money in other ways, including selling off equipment, selling characters or making side bets. If you do go bankrupt, you can start again with a brand new corporation immediately. This new corporation does not get any characters, however; you'll have to bid on the "free agent" characters that used to belong to the bankrupt corporation. Minimum bid is $5,000, and the other corporations may join the bidding if they have room in their rosters.
 

Year-End Options

At the end of the season (around early April for us), we hold a meeting of the BDAA. This meeting has a number of purposes, including recognizing the corporate champion of the previous season. But the most important event is the player trading session.

In the player Trading Session, corporations can swing any deals among themselves that they wish, trading players, money and vehicles in any combination. In addition, corporations may cut unproductive or unwanted characters. These cut players are bid on in auction, with the money going to the team that cut the player (the corporation that cut that character may not bid on him). Any empty roster spots at the end of all this may be filled with new 100-point characters, as detailed in the beginning of this article.
 

Prestige Rollback

After a year of play, it's quite possible that you may have players with a ridiculously high amount of prestige. This can be a small problem, as it gives older corporations a distinct advantage over a new corporation. After one such season, the BDAA devised a system which will "roll back" a star's prestige. Instead of carrying over a character's prestige from the previous season, determine his new prestige by the following formula:

Example: Mad Fred Lincoln has a prestige of 75 at the end of the year, making him a very popular duellist. During the off-season, though, the inevitable whispering about Fred being "over the hill" starts up, and with Fred being out of the public eye, his prestige will drop.

But Fred has had a very impressive career. He's got 24 vehicle kills (24 points), which makes him a quadruple ace (4 points). In his three years (3 points), he has fought in 28 events (28 points) and had to use Gold Cross's services four times (4 points). His new prestige entering the next season is 55.

I hope you have as much fun with this system as we have. Happy duelling!


ADQ Vol. 4, No. 4 Index

Car Wars*Steve Jackson Games*ADQ Index